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Health and Nutrition with Nature's Sunshine

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Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is an often overlooked but crucial component of our immune system. It comprises of a network of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes (also referred to as glands) that transport fluid, fats, proteins and white blood cells called lymphocytes to the bloodstream as lymph and removes microorganisms and other debris from body tissues, acting somewhat as a clean up system for the body. Unlike blood vessels which transport blood, however, the lymphatic vessels do not have a pump to shunt the lymph along but rely on the action of muscle movement to move the fluid along and valves that prevent the fluid from moving backwards. This is the reason that lying motionless is advised after a snake bite to prevent the toxin (which travels via the lymphatic system) from progressing towards the heart. 
Symptoms of Lymphatic Congestion
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that infection is present and the number of white blood cells has been increased by the body in response to stimulation by a foreign substance. Lymph nodes may also enlarge in response to a viral infection such as the common cold, inflammation or less commonly, in malignancies. 
Lymphatic congestion occurs as a result of poor drainage or movement of the lymphatic fluid through the valves and along the lymphatic vessels. Lymphoedema is the medical term which refers to this condition. Any part of the body can be affected by lympoedema but it tends to target the arms and legs. 
Improving Lymphatic Flow
  • The primary way to improve lymphatic flow and reduce congestion is through regular exercise. Rebounding which is using a small trampoline is a very effective way to improve lymphatic flow as the rhythmic jumping action causes the one way valves to open and close encouraging lymphatic circulation. 
  • Massage is also beneficial. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a physical therapy in which the practitioner uses a range of specialized gentle pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow.  
  • Drinking plenty of water is vital as without adequate water, the lymph cannot flow properly. As well, avoiding foods with preservatives and other chemicals will lessen the burden on your body and its lymphatic system. 
Herbal Help
Herbs have been used for centuries for the purpose of cleansing the body. Many historical herbal medicine texts speak of using herbs for lymphatic congestion, lymph cleansing and for general immune support and detoxification. 
Practitioners of Eclectic Medicine who were prominent in America around the late 1800's often used lymphatic herbs in combination with alterative or 'blood cleansing' herbs. This was according to the Thomsonian philosophy of restoring vital energy and removing obstructions to the body healing itself through assisting its eliminating functions. 
Some of the more well-known lymphatic herbs include Echinacea, Cleavers, Golden Seal, Pokeroot and Wild Indigo.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) – a powerful immune-boosting herb that also works to lessen congestion and swelling in the lymphatic system. Useful in the treatment of acute infections as well as for prevention.  
Cleavers (Galium aparine) – known as a blood and urinary tract cleanser that also decreases lymphatic congestion and inflammation. 
Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis) – a great anti-inflammatory and lymphatic cleanser with a specific affinity for the mucous membranes.  Golden Seal (100 caps)  
Pokeroot (Phytolacca decandra) – a powerful lymphatic herb, useful in the treatment of tonsillitis, swollen glands, mumps, mastitis and other lymph related conditions. It is important to seek professional advice regarding the use and dosage of Pokeroot as it can be harmful in larger doses. It is also not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women. 
Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria) – has an anti-microbial action so is useful in helping the body deal with infectious agents so combined with its lymphatic action, is a fantastic choice for dealing with the congestion and infection of sore throats for example.  
Fight Infection
Silver Shield with Aqua Sol Liquid and Gel
Silver Shield with Aqua Sol Liquid Safe and effective alternative to antibiotics; can put it in ears and up nose; for a child take 1/2 teaspoon 4x/day for 1 week, then ½ teaspoon 3x/day for 1 week;  use twice as much for an adult; good for eye infections, bacterial, viral & fungal infections, food poisoning, inflammation, pain, fever - take internally. Externally use Silver Shield Gel.
Please call or email me if I can help you.
Share the Health,
Karen Herrmann-Doolan, NSP District Manager 
Nature's Sunshine Herb Specialist 
Natural Health Educator
H: 704-588-7638
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